Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

The Russian architect W. Livin-Goldenstaedt just got a little closer

Today I made another attempt at tracking down the mysterious “W. Livin-Goldstaedt.” This name is associated with the Astrid Apartments on the corner of Nanchang Rd (Route Vallon) and Maoming Rd (Rue Cardinal Mercier), and also King Albert Apartments on Shaanxi Rd (Avenue de Roi Albert) and Fuxing Rd (Rue Lafayette). An attempt at an alternative spelling, Goldenstaedt, yieled a positive result from the Desk Hong Lists. Then I turned to the Russian and Chinese internet to look for "Гольденштедт" and "戈登士达" and got lucky.

The Astrid Apartments in Shanghai

Vladimir Goldenstaedt was born in Vladivostok in 1878. His step-father, Karl Goldenstaedt, married Vladimir's mother Agafya Livina and applied for a formal of her four children from the previous marriage (Vladimir was six at the time). Goldenstaedt, of German origin, was a dairy farmer and a landowner. Such naturalized expats were called “Russianized,” to indicate their change of religion. The adoption was approved on the condition that the children remain in the Russian faith and are raised in the Russian tradition. They all assumed their stepfather’s surname, Goldenstaedt, and received good education.

UPDATE Jan 11, 2017: A descendant of the family left a comment to clarify the circumstances of the adoption, so I've edited the above paragraph.

The young Vladimir Goldenstaedt got his degree in architecture from the Institute of Civil Engineers (in Saint Petersburg, as was pointed out in the comments). His stepfather bought a piece of land in Vladivstok and Vladimir designed a hotel to build on it, called The Central. Finished in 1907, it became the best hotel in the city.

Here is the Central Hotel in Vladivostok photographed around 1920

And here it is nowadays

This is another building in Vladivostok built in 1908 by Vladimir Goldenstaedt

During the 1910s Vladimir Goldenstaedt designed a number of municipal and private buildings in Vladivostok, some of which still stand today. But when the First World War began, a German last name could be damaging to a career, so in 1915 he applied to change back to Livin, and his request was granted.

In 1922, when the civil war in Russia ended and the Bolsheviks got hold of the Far East, the architect emigrated to Shanghai and opened an architecture firm. He worked in Shanghai for thirteen years, under the name W. Livin-Goldenstaedt. His exact contribution to the landscape of Shanghai calls for additional research. He possibly worked for the Eastern Asia Architects and Engineers Corp. Ltd until some time in the middle of the 1930s. Together with his big family he was living in a lane house on Fumin Road (Route Courbet) as late as 1939.

In 1925 Livin-Goldenstaedt submitted several designs to the competition for a memorial to Sun Yatsen in Nanjing, but they did not win the commission, taking the 5th, the 6th and the 7th places.

W. Livin-Goldenstaedt's designs for Sun Yatsen's memorial
Tags: architecture, russians, shanghai

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